Making Medicare:  The History of Health Care in Canada, 1914-2007 Back to Timeline Back to Timeline
History: 1939-1948 DEPRESSION DEVELOPMENTS, 19301939 NATIONAL SYSTEM, NATIONAL FAILURE? : WAR, RECONSTRUCTION AND HEALTH SECURITY FOR CANADIANS, 1939–1948 PUBLIC OR PRIVATE? VOLUNTARY OR COMPULSORY? : HOSPITAL CARE FOR CANADIANS, 1948–1958



The Politics of Reconstruction

Prior to the approval of the revised legislation for a health insurance plan, however, several significant political developments occurred. In January 1944, the Cabinet agreed to support family allowances as the central plank in its social welfare program and to delay health insurance until an opportunity arose to discuss the matter with the provinces at a Dominion–provincial conference. This strategy was developed by the Department of Finance, which had concluded that putting purchasing power in the hands of Canadian women would ensure a smooth transition to a peacetime economy, as pent up demand for consumer goods aided the transformation from the war economy and maintained full employment. Thus, although Minister Mackenzie presented the revised health insurance plan to his provincial counterparts in May 1944, the Prime Minister and Cabinet were more intent on countering the emerging political threat of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation than in overseeing the full development of welfare programs. The election of Tommy Douglas and the CCF as the government of Saskatchewan on June 15, 1944 confirmed Mackenzie King’s fears that Canadian voters were shifting to the left, but he was still not prepared to infringe on provincial jurisdiction in health care.

Photo: Tommy Douglas, the newly elected Co-operative Commonwealth Federation premier of Saskatchewan, in 1944

Tommy Douglas, the newly elected Co-operative Commonwealth Federation premier of Saskatchewan, in 1944. Health care was his first priority, and he immediately implemented a full plan for people on social assistance: widows and their children, and pensioners.
Saskatchewan Archives Board, R-A3421

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    Date Created: March 31, 2010 | Last Updated: April 21, 2010